Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Baltassar. Chaldean, a letter is wanting. (Haydock) — This Baltassar was slain, chap. v. (Calmet) — The two visions happened before that event. (Worthington) — The. Protestants, “visions of his head, upon his bed. Then he wrote the dream, and told the sum of the matters.” (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Winds, to imply the tumults occasioned by fresh kingdoms (Worthington) in the world. (Theod.)
Ver. 3. Four great beasts; viz. the Chaldeans, Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires. But some rather choose to understand the fourth beast of the successors of Alexander the great, more especially of them that reigned in Asia and Syria, (Challoner) or in Egypt, chap. ii. 40.(Haydock)
Ver. 4. Man. The emperors of Babylon were forced to confess that they were nothing more. (Calmet) — Their cruel and rapid conquests (Worthington) are denoted by this monstrous animal. Its wings shew how the lands were divided between the Medes and Persians. Perhaps Neriglissor, &c., shared a part, chap. v. 1. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Bear, which is cruel, and eats what is set before it greedily. (Worthington) — Side. Cyrus did not attack the Jews. (St. Jerome) — He stood ready to attack the Chaldeans. — Three. He ruled over the Medes and Chaldeans, as well as over the Persians. (Calmet) — Rows. Greek, “wings or sides” of an animal, (Haydock) or “bones.” (Grotius) — Cyrus was always at war; and Justin (1.) says, that Tomyris II of Scythia, ordered his head to be cut off, and thrown into a vessel full of blood. His troops are styled robbers, Jeremias li. 48. The ambition of Cambyses, Hystaspes, &c. are insatiable.
Ver. 6. Leopard, a small spotted beast, may denote the size and disposition of Alexander, as well as his rapid conquests. When he was asked how he had subdued so many, he answered, “by never putting off.” (Calmet) — Four. He led his forces on all sides; (Haydock) and after his death, his empire was divided into four, (Worthington) Egypt, Syria, Asia, and Macedon, (Theod.) as he had united in his person the empire of the Chaldeans, Medes, Persians, and Greeks. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Unlike. It is not named: but shews the incomparable power of the Romans, governed by kings, consuls, tribunes, dictators, and emperors, at different times. (Worthington) — This is the opinion generally received, which we shall explain. Yet many think that the kingdoms of Syria and Egypt are designated, as [in] chap. ii. 40. St. Jerome acknowledges that what is understood of antichrist, had been partly verified in Epiphanes, his figure. The beast was to be slain before the coming of the Son of man, ver. 11, 26. It would persecute for three years and a half; but God would grant victory to his saints, as he did to the Machabees. Yet they only exhibited a faint idea of what has been done by the Church. The same subject is treated, chap. xi. Many things caused the dominion of the successors of Alexander to be unlike that of others. It was never united, and was very destructive to the Jews. (Calmet) — Horns. That is, ten kingdoms, (as [in] Apocalypse xvii. 12.) among which the empire of the fourth beast shall be parcelled: or ten kings of the number of the successors of Alexander, as figures of such as shall be about the time of antichrist. (Challoner) — Epiphanes was the eighth king, and Laomedon, Antigonus, and Demetrius, had been governors of Syria before. Most understand this of antichrist, whom Epiphanes foreshewed. Others think that it points out Vespasian, the tenth successor of Cæsar, who made war on the Jews. The same prediction may regard different events, as the abomination (Chap. ix.) may allude to the profanations committed by Epiphanes, by the Romans at the last siege, and by antichrist. Others apply this to the Turkish empire, which may be paving the way for the great antagonist of Christ. (Calmet) Dioclesian and Julian may also be meant, as well as other forerunners of the man of sin. (Haydock) — He shall overcome many, but his fury shall continue but a short time, ver. 25. (Worthington)
Ver. 8. Little horn. This is commonly understood of antichrist. It may also be applied to that great persecutor, Antiochus Epiphanes, as a figure of antichrist. (Challoner) — He was the youngest son of Antiochus the great, and was a hostage of Rome. While he was returning, his elder brother died, and Epiphanes excluded his son Philometor, of Egypt, and the usurper Heliodorus. He also defeated three, Philometor, on the south; Artaxias, king of Armenia, on the east; and the strength, or God’s people, ver 24., and chap. viii. 9. — Man. He gained several at first, by his affability. — Things: blasphemy, 1 Machabees i. 23, 43. (Calmet)
Ver. 9. Ancient. The Son is born of the Father, and the Holy Ghost proceeds from both, yet all three are coeternal. (Worthington) — Hence the Father is sometimes painted in this manner, though he be a pure spirit. His throne resembled that seen by Ezechiel, chap. i. (Haydock) — He takes cognizance of all, and punishes accordingly. (Calmet)
Ver. 10. Fire. Psalm xcvi. 3. — Thousands. Greek implies one million and one hundred millions. (Menochius) — The angels are very numerous, particularly the highest, styled assistants. (St. Thomas Aquinas; Worthington)
Ver. 11. Spoke. I wished to see how the king would be punished. He felt the hand of God as he was going to destroy all the Jews, when he pretended to repent, 1 Machabees vi., and 2 Machabees ix. 4. His successors could not much disturb the Jews, ver. 13. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Time. Each of the four empires had its period assigned. That of Rome attracted the prophet’s attention most, and is mentioned first. (Menochius)
Ver. 13. Heaven. Christ appeared about sixty years after the subversion of the Syrian monarchy. Yet these expressions literally refer to his second coming, Matthew xxvi. 64. (Calmet) — He had the form of man, as he had the nature. (Menochius) — He is clearly predicted. By his power antichrist is overthrown. (Worthington)
Ver. 14. Destroyed. The eternal dominion of Christ could not be expressed in stronger terms. He seems to allude to them, Matthew xxviii. 18. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Earth. The first was on the point of disappearing, chap. v. 31.(Haydock)
Ver. 18. Most High, (Th.[Theodotion?]) or rather Chaldean, “the very high saints of God;” as also [in] ver. 22, 25, and 27.
Ver. 21. Saints. The Machabees at last prevailed. Christ will punish the Jews, Matthew xxiv. 30.
Ver. 23. Greater. Chaldean, “unlike,” as [in] ver. 7. Epiphanes was a greater scourge of the Jews than any of the preceding.
Ver. 24. Mightier. Chaldean again, “unlike.” Antiochus the great had lost many provinces: but his son was the most implacable enemy of God’s people. He subdued them, Egypt and Armenia; or his three competitors, ver. 8.
Ver. 25. Against, or “over against,” like an accuser. Sym.: “as if he were God.” — Laws. He did this with regard to the Jews, (1 Machabees i. 41.; Calmet) prohibiting their festivals. Antichrist will do the like, and pretend to work miracles. (Haydock) — A time, &c. That is, three years and a half; which is supposed to be the length of the duration of the persecution of antichrist. (Challoner) (Apocalypse xi. 2. and xii. 14.) — Josephus (Jewish Wars, preface) says the sacrifices were discontinued so long, or rather this time elapsed from the publishing his edict till the temple was purified. During six months, people offered sacrifice clandestinely, 1 Machabees iv. 36, 52.
Ver. 27. Him. The power of the Machabees was too limited, to be here understood. The Church and Christ must be meant.
Ver. 28. Word. The angel spoke no more at this time. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, signifying four kingdoms: of God sitting on his throne: and of the opposite kingdoms of Christ and antichrist.
1 In the first year of Baltassar, king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream: and the vision of his head was upon his bed: and writing the dream, he comprehended it in a few words: and relating the sum of it in short, he said:
2 I saw in my vision by night, and behold the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.
3 And four great beasts, different one from another, came up out of the sea.
4 The first was like a lioness, and had the wings of an eagle: I beheld till her wings were plucked off, and she was lifted up from the earth, and stood upon her feet as a man, and the heart of a man was given to her.
5 And behold another beast, like a bear, stood up on one side: and there were three rows in the mouth thereof, and in the teeth thereof, and thus they said to it: Arise, devour much flesh.
6 After this I beheld, and lo, another like a leopard, and it had upon it four wings, as of a fowl, and the beast had four heads, and power was given to it.
7 After this I beheld in the vision of the night, and lo, a fourth beast, terrible and wonderful, and exceeding strong, it had great iron teeth, eating and breaking in pieces, and treading down the rest with his feet: and it was unlike to the other beasts which I had seen before it, and had ten horns.
8 I considered the horns, and behold another little horn sprung out of the midst of them: and three of the first horns were plucked up at the presence thereof: and behold eyes like the eyes of a man were in this horn, and a mouth speaking great things.
9 I beheld till thrones were placed, and the ancient of days sat: his garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like clean wool: his throne like flames of fire: the wheels of it like a burning fire.
10 A swift stream of fire issued forth from before him: *thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him: the judgment sat, and the books were opened.
11 I beheld, because of the voice of the great words which that horn spoke: and I saw that the beast was slain, and the body thereof was destroyed, and given to the fire to be burnt:
12 And that the power of the other beasts was taken away: and that times of life were appointed them for a time, and a time.
13 I beheld, therefore, in the vision of the night, and lo, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the ancient of days: and they presented him before him.
14 And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve him: *his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom, that shall not be destroyed.
15 My spirit trembled; I, Daniel, was affrighted at these things, and the visions of my head troubled me.
16 I went near to one of them that stood by, and asked the truth of him concerning all these things, and he told me the interpretation of the words, and instructed me:
17 These four great beasts, are four kingdoms, which shall arise out of the earth.
18 But the saints of the most high God shall take the kingdom: and they shall possess the kingdom for ever and ever.
19 After this I would diligently learn concerning the fourth beast, which was very different from all, and exceeding terrible: his teeth and claws were of iron: he devoured and broke in pieces, and the rest he stamped upon with his feet:
20 And concerning the ten horns that he had on his head: and concerning the other that came up, before which three horns fell: and of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth speaking great things, and was greater than the rest.
21 I beheld, and lo, that horn made war against the saints, and prevailed over them,
22 Till the ancient of days came and gave judgment to the saints of the most High, and the time came, and the saints obtained the kingdom.
23 And thus he said: The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be greater than all the kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
24 And the ten horns of the same kingdom, shall be ten kings: and another shall rise up after them, and he shall be mightier than the former, and he shall bring down three kings.
25 And he shall speak words against the High One, and shall crush the saints of the most High: and he shall think himself able to change times and laws, and they shall be delivered into his hand until a time, and times, and half a time.
26 And judgment shall sit, that his power may be taken away, and be broken in pieces, and perish even to the end.
27 And that the kingdom, and power, and the greatness of the kingdom, under the whole heaven, may be given to the people of the saints of the most High: whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all kings shall serve him, and shall obey him.
28 Hitherto is the end of the word. I, Daniel, was much troubled with my thoughts, and my countenance was changed in me: but I kept the word in my heart.
10: Apocalypse v. 11.
14: Daniel iii. 100. and iv. 31.; Micheas iv. 7.; Luke i. 32.